At least five Christian families who were not healthy enough to flee Mosul, Iraq after the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ordered them to convert to Islam or be executed, have renounced their faith for Islam, according to a local government minister.
"There are five Christian families who converted to Islam because they were threatened with death," Younadim Kanna, a Christian and a member of Iraq's Parliament told The New York Times. "They did so just to stay alive."
ISIS had given the Christians until Saturday to get out of Mosul, Iraq's second largest City which is almost as old as Christianity itself. In the days leading up to the deadline, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Raphael Sako, appealed for global help and explained last week in a letter published by AINA News that ISIS had started marking the homes of Christians, the majority of whom fled with little more than the clothes on their backs. more >>
As Iraq's Christians continue fleeing the city of Mosul and other regions following a "convert or die" ultimatum by Islamic militants ISIS, persecution watchdog group Open Doors said that the "unprecedented" forced exodus has left Christianity in the Middle East near extinction.
"The persecution and treatment of Christians in Mosul is unprecedented in modern times," Dr. David Curry, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, said in a statement on Monday. "This latest forced exodus of Christians further shows why Western governments and the people in the West need to cry out in support for religious freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere. If this does not move us concerning the near extinction of Christianity in the Middle East, it's likely nothing else can."
ISIS, which has taken control of Mosul and other parts of Iraq, gave Christians until midday Saturday to convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed. Thousands of Christians have subsequently fled the region, with some seeking refuge at camps in the autonomous region of Kurdistan. more >>
Pope Francis prayed for an end to Christian persecution in the Middle East on Sunday, one day after Christians were forced to flee the village of Mosul in Iraq following threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a jihadist militant group.
While leading a moment of silence in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday, Francis said that Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East will be the subject of his "constant prayers."
"Violence isn't overcome with violence. Violence is conquered with peace," the pope told the crowd gathered at St. Peter's Square. "Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away." more >>
Members of the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reportedly torched a 1,800 year-old Catholic Church in Mosul, Iraq and have effectively left that city "empty of Christians" as believers fled the area in fear of their lives, according to Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako.
Sources told Shoebat that the ISIS group in Mosul called "Daash" completely burned the Syriac Catholic Diocese and its contents in Mosul. A Chaldean, Syriac and Assyrian Website released photos of the church in flames Saturday.
The torching of the church comes on the heels of the destruction of a number of other Christian monuments in Iraq in recent months including the tomb of biblical prophet Jonah, which was dug up by ISIL militants in the east of Mosul. more >>
Following news that Iraq's dwindling Christians have been forced out of their centuries' old homeland over the weekend, a British academic and scholar of American history demanded to know why their plight had received such scant attention and called the status quo response "worthy of contempt."
Writing for The Telegraph Monday, Tim Stanley, called the ISIS-prompted exodus from Iraq a "war crime that, strangely, no one seems to want to talk about."
The scholar summarized the Christians' plight as "an unattractive choice: convert, pay a religious tax, or be put to the sword." more >>
New York City pastor William Devlin has traveled to Khartoum in Sudan where he has met Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim and offered to help bring and take care of her and her family in the United States.
"The Devlin family has offered to bring this family back to the USA from Khartoum and have them live with us. I have been interviewed by the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. and I have also met for three hours with the U.S. Ambassador to Sudan here in Khartoum – and his senior staff," Devlin said in an email to The Christian Post on Sunday.
"Furthermore, because of my long term friendship with the Foreign Minister of Sudan, I have met personally with him and asked him to advocate for this family – and have the Sudanese authorities release this family to me to bring them back to U.S.. I have offered to pay for their flights (the four of them) to America and to house them indefinitely in our home – and to provide for their needs." more >>